Carbonear taxes go­ing up

Town re­duces mill rate to help lessen bur­den on tax­pay­ers

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BILL BOW­MAN

Sig­nif­i­cant in­creases in prop­erty as­sess­ments will see most Carbonear tax­pay­ers hav­ing to dig deeper this year when they re­ceive their tax bills.

In an ef­fort to help lessen the bur­den of in­creased taxes coun­cil has re­duced its mill rate by 0.5 mills on res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial prop­erty. The mill rate has been re­duced from 9.75 mills (last year’s rate) down to 9.25 mills. That amounts to $92.50 for ev­ery $10,000 worth of prop­erty or $925 on a $100,000 prop­erty.

In the last prop­erty as­sess­ments, most prop­er­ties in Carbonear in­creased in value by an av­er­age of 15 per cent.

While most tax­pay­ers whose prop­erty as­sess­ments have in­creased will see an in­crease on their tax bill, a few will re­main the same, while a scat­tered one may even see a slight de­crease, pro­vided there was no change in their as­sess­ment.

In bring­ing down the town’s 2010 bud­get last Mon­day, Jan. 25, deputy mayor Ches Ash noted, “ef­fec­tive this year there will be a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in as­sessed val­ues of res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial prop­er­ties within our com­mu­nity and through­out the prov­ince.”

Deputy mayor Ash, who also chairs the town’s fi­nance com­mit­tee ex­plained, “even without an in­crease in our mill rate, there would be a sub­stan­tial in­crease in the cost of prop­erty taxes for res­i­dents and busi­nesses. It was the con­sen­sus of coun­cil that sim­ply not in­creas­ing our mill rates was in­suf­fi­cient and un­ac­cept­able. To leave our mill rates un­changed and claim there is no tax in­crease is to ig­nore re­al­ity.”

In com­pil­ing this year’s bud­get, the deputy mayor said coun­cil mem­bers were “es­pe­cially con­cerned with the ef­fect of the in­creased prop­erty as­sess­ments on the cost of prop­erty taxes for our cit­i­zens, yet we rec­og­nized we needed ad­di­tional rev­enue for the town.

Ash said coun­cil feels “this mill rate re­duc­tion is a rea­son­able and fair re­sponse which helps pro­vide for the needs of our town and... gives due con­sid­er­a­tion to the needs of our res­i­dents and busi­ness com­mu­nity.”

By mak­ing up for this re­duc­tion in other ways he said coun­cil was able to avoid a bud­get short­fall for this year and for the next few years. He did not spec­ify what “other ways” coun­cil em­ployed to com­pen­sate for the re­duc­tion.

Bal­anced bud­get

As re­quired un­der the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act, Carbonear coun­cil has de­liv­ered a bal­anced bud­get of $5,300,008, a record bud­get for the town of 4,723 peo­ple.

Deputy mayor Ash said he was pleased to point out that, “ for this year and for the fore­see­able fu­ture, there is no short­fall in rev­enues, no cut in ser­vices and no op­er­a­tional deficit.”

Turn­ing briefly to coun­cil’s ef­forts and the town’s progress in re­duc­ing its long-term deficit, he re­minded coun­cil, “in 1999 the town had a deficit of $1.3 mil­lion. Since that time, “the town has pur­sued an ag­gres­sive and ef­fec­tive deficit-re­duc­tion strat­egy, and at year end 2008 our deficit was re­duced to $ 447,000. We an­tic­i­pate that our deficit at year end 2009 will be fur­ther re­duced to ap­prox­i­mately $350,000.” While it is yet to be con­firmed by the town’s au­di­tor, he ex­pects, “ by year end 2012 our deficit will be elim­i­nated.”

Ad­mit­ting that bal­anc­ing this year’s bud­get was a chal­lenge con­sid­er­ing the needs and de­mands of a grow­ing town, Ash said, “al­though we en­joy the ad­di­tional ben­e­fits and in­creased rev­enues of sig­nif­i­cant growth and de­vel­op­ment, we also face in­creas­ing de­mands and ex­pen­di­tures.”

With growth and de­vel­op­ment comes the need for ad­di­tional hu­man re­sources, equip­ment and in­fra­struc­ture.

He pointed out coun­cil also faces in­creased costs as they re­spond to the needs as­so­ci­ated with an ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture; “to the press­ing need to up­grade and main­tain our roads; to the need for side­walks, curb and gut­ter through­out our town and to the need for snow clear­ing, waste man­age­ment, recre­ation and other qual­ity ser­vices.”

In rec­og­niz­ing and meet­ing those needs, the fi­nance com­mit­tee chair­man said coun­cil in­tends “to be fis­cally re­spon­si­ble and ob­serve pru­dent spending prac­tices as we pro­vide for the needs of our town.”

To en­sure the town moves for­ward, ex­pands and de­vel­ops, he ac­knowl­edged coun­cil “must be vi­sion­ary in our ap­proach. We must not al­low fis­cal cau­tion to sti­fle our vi­sion, im­pede our progress or limit our de­vel­op­ment. We must be creative, assertive and am­bi­tious in our man­age­ment and ad­min­is­tra­tion prac­tices.

In de­vel­op­ing its bud­get, Ash said, “our pol­icy has been to con­tain our ex­pen­di­tures, trim our costs and max­i­mize our rev­enue. By so do­ing we will be fis­cally re­spon­si­ble, but we will not be un­duly hand­i­capped or con­strained in our progress...”

To keep a tight rein on spending, the fi­nance com­mit­tee chair­man promised his com­mit­tee “will main­tain an on­go­ing anal­y­sis and re­view all spending and ex­pen­di­tures. Bud­get re­quests by all de­part­ments and groups have been con­di­tion­ally ap­proved with the stip­u­la­tion they will be sub­ject to con­tin­u­ing eval­u­a­tion and sub­ject to re­vi­sion if deemed ad­vis­able or nec­es­sary. We must in all de­part­ments min­i­mize ex­penses and be cost ef­fi­cient.”

Over­all the deputy mayor said he feels the bud­get is “ fair to the res­i­dents and busi­nesses and pro­vides for the needs of the town.”

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